Holden: 2015 Holden Commodore SS-V Redline sedan review

Holden: 2015 Holden Commodore SS-V Redline sedan review

Proper English grammar dictates that “it’s not the best ever, but it’s the best yet.”

However given the finality of the production of the V8 Commodore sedan and station wagon range come late 2017, I think we can truly say the VF Series II is the best ever rear-wheel-drive GM Holden Australia designed and built passenger vehicle.

2015 SSV Redline engineEven if the new 304kW 6.2-litre LSIII V8 engine under the bonnet is an all-Chevrolet affair which is built in Mexico.

All new VFII SS and SSV models get an updated front grille and bumper assembly that is more aggressive than the previous range (review here), but also functional. Venting allows air to pass through cooling brakes and mitigating the aerodynamic drag caused by the car’s large wheel arches.

2015 SSV Redline bonnet ventThe new bonnet vents on the VFII V8 models not only look very cool they also have a practical purpose, allowing heat from the engine to escape.

The SS-V Redline as tested offers a passive entry and passive start system, as well as new 19-inch glossy black alloy wheels, new clear tail-lamps on the sedan, and LED lamps on the wagon version.

It is now also equipped with Brembo brakes on all four wheels, the red callipers looking quite distinctive behind those gloss black alloy wheels.

The Redline also offers a ‘Competition Mode’ in its driver assistance system, which allows a level of tail-out hero antics that will flatter the skills of many drivers when making an excursion to the local track day.

2015 SSV Redline Brembo brakesWhen the all-singing, all-dancing VF series Commodore arrived late in 2013, it brought a greater level of driver assistance technology and safety features than had previously been available to buyers previously.

These functions including forward collision alert, AEB, lane keeping assistance, active cruise control, automated parallel and perpendicular parking assistance, and a head-up display as well as greater 2015 SSV Redline foglampfunctionality through the infotainment system.

These luxury car features in a mass market brand didn’t go unnoticed and despite the decline in the large car market, thanks to the exodus to SUV or smaller premium brand vehicles, Commodore sales continue to be strong in New Zealand.

As much as I hate to admit this, the VFII SS-V Redline on test did a much better job of parallel parking and 2015 SSV Redline front three quarter profilereverse perpendicular parking that I did. Once you get used to just controlling the throttle and brake, it is a very good system.

However, the previous V8 models (both SS-V and Calais-V) were very refined, indeed I remember making the comment that they were a little bit too quiet, and that if I was going to buy a V8 engine, I wanted to hear it.

2015 SSV Redline Rear three quarter profileThankfully somebody at GM Holden agreed, and for the VFII update, the V8 models not only proudly wear an LS3 badge on the radiator grille, they also get more exhaust noise thanks to the introduction of a new bi-model exhaust.

Holden developed the new exhaust system locally rather than using already available after-market options. The system is activated using a button on VFII’s 8” colour touch screen and intelligently detects driver input.

The result is a wonderfully intoxicating rumble, with crackling and popping on a trailing throttle.

A run up and down the infamous Kaimai hill between Tauranga and Matamata allowed me to manually downshift through the six-speed automatic for engine braking around corners, that was accompanied by a cacophony of snap, crackle, and pop.

Holden has introduced the ‘Baillie Tip’, which consists of a unique opening in the exhaust that reverberates sound back through the exhaust towards the cabin, increasing the overall sound level up to 10%.

The ‘Baillie Tip’ is integral to the cars newly found sound character, and the naming of it is a fitting tribute to its creator, Dr. David Baillie, who succumbed to Leukemia earlier this year.

It creates a wonderful boom inside the cabin, but not to the point of being annoyingly intrusive.

The bi-modal exhaust allows you to not only let other motorists know what the car is packing under those twin bonnet vents, but it will do so at socially responsible speeds.

The 6.2-litre LS3 delivers 304kW – up from 270kW in the old model – of power and 570Nm of torque. The engine uses an additional litre of 98 petrol per 100km travelled. It is but a small price to pay for the fun and responsiveness.

We managed an average of 13L/100km on the run home from Tauranga to Auckland and we spent a fair bit of time under cruise control on the straights of State Highway 27.

Holden’s engineers have redesigned the Redline sedan model’s rear suspension stabiliser bar and in conjunction with a reduction in rear spring rate and returned dampers, have been able to achieve improvements to both overall ride, comfort and handling.

For a car that rides around on 19 inch wheels with a slick of low profile rubber on the rims, we found it has a very compliant ride, even over the worse New Zealand road surfaces.

In summary, it is the best rear-wheel-drive V8 Commodore yet produced and we will miss this car when it ceases production in 2017, so my advice would be to grab one before its too late.

Price: $75,990


  • Loud,
  • Proud
  • Fast
  • Well built
  • Comfortable,


  • Thirsty
  • Might be too uncouth for some

Words and cover shot:

Other pictures: GM Holden Australia

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